(This story was originally published on July 20)
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Seven women were arrested on Monday afternoon while protesting the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline in Wadena County.
One of the women arrested was Winona LaDuke, Indigenous leader and founder of environmental group Honor the Earth, who has been standing against the construction of the replacement pipeline for eight years.
The seven women all face trespassing charges; arraignments started on Tuesday morning.
Honor the Earth says that the “charge of the colonial world is in conflict with the Anishinaabeg,” citing a 2019 White Earth Nation tribal law which requires the White Earth Nation to stand up for and protect the rights of wild rice and other sacred food.
On Wednesday evening, the group Stop Line 3 said that the Wadena County Jail has not yet released LaDuke. The group is calling for Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington to release her, as well as “fair and just treatment of all water protectors.”
Three water protectors also locked down one of Enbridge’s drills on Tuesday morning, halting drilling under the Shell River.
The multi-billion dollar replacement pipeline carves a path in between three reservations in central and northern Minnesota. Environmental and tribal groups say the line would worsen climate change and risk spills in areas where Native Americans harvest wild rice, hunt, fish, gather medicinal plants, and claim treaty rights.
Enbridge, the Canadian energy company behind the project, says the pipeline set to run from Alberta, Canada to Superior, Wisconsin is already built and the Minnesota portion is half finished. The company says the original pipeline from the 1960s is deteriorating, and the new line made from stronger steel will better protect the environment.
The controversial pipeline has faced legal challenges and protests for years. Last week, tribal and environmental groups asked the Minnesota Supreme Court to overturn a lower court decision affirming the approvals granted by independent regulators that allowed construction to begin last December.
Minnesota’s Department of Natural Resources has also allowed Enbridge a variance to its dewatering permits despite the widespread drought, allowing the company to increase pumping from 540 million gallons from local lakes and rivers to 5 billion gallons of water.
To date, nearly 600 people have been arrested for protesting the pipeline.
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